Vatican City, Jul 3, 2018 / 09:20 am
For two cardinals helping to organize Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Bari, the event is a chance to highlight not only the historic religious presence of Christianity in the Middle East, but also the social contribution the various rites and churches bring to the region.
"Christians are an essential element of balance" for the Middle East "not only for religious reasons, but also for political and social reasons," Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said July 3.
Quoting Benedict XVI's 2012 apostolic exhortation on the Church in the Middle East, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, Koch said that "a Middle East without Christians, or with only a few Christians, would no longer be the Middle East, since Christians, together with other believers, are part of the distinctive identity of the region."
However, he stressed that getting Christians to stay after having their lives uprooted and, in many cases, torn apart, will only happen "if peace is re-established."